“Well, anyway,” said Mr. Perry; “I agree with Bud that we ought to have some watches to-night. I believe in taking warning from Bud’s prediction. There are five of us. Who wants the first watch?”
“I’ll take the watch beginning about 1:30 o’clock,” said Bud. “If anything happens, it’ll be between then and 2:30.”
“Brave boy!” commented Cub solemnly. “I’ll take next-best place, immediately following your watch.”
“Give me the one just before Bud’s,” said Hal. “There may be something doing between now and then you know. If anybody invades the camp at 1:30 o’clock sharp, I’ll call Bud and go to bed and let him repel the invaders.”
“What a methodical bunch of boys!” Mr. Perry exclaimed.
“Due to the mathematical training we’ve had under you, dad,” Cub explained.
“I’ll take the first watch, if it suits everybody,” Max announced.
“Say, father, you ought to let us have your automatic while we’re on watch,” Cub suggested.
“Nothing doing,” replied the cautious adult, shaking his head vigorously. “I’d rather run the risk of being wiped out by a band of bandits than to run the risk of your shooting one of us if we should happen to walk in our sleep. If any of you boys see or hear anything suspicious, just call me, and I’ll do the shooting, if any is to be done. You may arm yourselves with some good stout clubs if you wish to, however.”
And so it was thus arranged, and while Max took his post on a camp chair in front of the tent, the other four sought rest on their cots under the canvas shelter.
For nearly half an hour Bud had kept his eyes fixed almost continuously on a certain spot in the dark shadow at the edge of the thicket directly south of the tent, which faced west. His attention had been drawn to this spot thirty or forty times after he relieved Max at 1:30 o’clock, and the cause of his interest was a slight movement in the shadow, suggesting a shifting of position by an animal of considerable size.
The moon was up, but not high enough to shed much light in the open area in which the tent was pitched. The sky was clear, and because of the deep shadows in which this spot was merged, the heavens, to Bud’s eyes, were studded with myriads of gem-like brilliants.
In the dim light thus afforded, the boy sentinel was able to make out what appeared to be portions of the form of a man partly hidden in the bushes, which grew at heights varying from three feet to six or seven feet from the ground. Meanwhile he congratulated himself repeatedly for a bit of very ordinary ingenuity he had resorted to in order to prepare himself for any emergency of more or less menacing outlook.